Royal & Derngate announces Made in Northampton Spring/Summer 2016 season

9c7999e3d5c73fe3_orgRoyal & Derngate announces Made in Northampton Spring/Summer 2016 season

@RoyalDerngate / #MadeInNorthampton

  • Four new productions will mark 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death:
    • The Herbal Bed – the first major revival of Peter Whelan’s play about Shakespeare’s daughter
    • Michael Pennington leading a distinguished cast inKing Lear
    • Tim Crouch collaborating with Spymonkey to stage all Shakespeare’s death scenes in The Complete Deaths
    • The Tempest in a new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, in a co-production with National Youth Theatre
  • World premiere of Soul by Roy Williams: the untold story of Marvin Gaye written in close collaboration with members of his family
  • Peepolykus’ anarchic take on Madame Bovary
  • A major touring revival of acclaimed 2014 production of A Tale of Two Cities adapted by Mike Poulton with music by Rachel Portman
  • The European premiere of Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Royal & Derngate productions will tour to over 40 venues

a6b677d1a8e07d2b_100x100arJames Dacre, Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate today announced the Spring and Summer programme for Made in Northampton 2016 in his third year at the Northampton venue.

As well as the world premiere of Soul, Roy Williams’ searing new play about the life and death of Marvin Gaye, a playful take on Madame Bovary, the European premiere of American sensation Peter and the Starcatcher and a revival of James Dacre’s celebrated version of A Tale of Two Cities, four major new productions will mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

In October, Royal & Derngate’s touring achievements were recognised when it was awarded the Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre at the 2015 UK Theatre Awards. Over the previous 12 months, six Made in Northamptonproductions toured to 45 venues across 30 towns and cities. In 2014/15 more than 71,000 people saw Royal & Derngate productions on tour, and since April a further 147,887 have also seen work around the country. In this Spring/Summer 2016 season alone, work originating at the Royal & Derngate will tour to over 40 different venues.

Introducing the season, Dacre said: “Northampton has long been known for its exports and we’re thrilled that Royal & Derngate productions will tour to over 40 theatres across Britain next year in what is perhaps our most ambitious season yet.

Spring begins with a festival of four productions to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. We then produce four world premieres, concluding the Summer season with Roy Williams’ new play Soul about the extraordinary life and death of the musical legend Marvin Gaye, before welcoming family audiences next Christmas with the magical tale of Peter and the Starcatcher. 

It’s worth adding that in the past 24 months, 24 new works have been commissioned by Royal & Derngate – a wonderful tribute to Northampton’s unique artistic community.”

ac9ccf5622140ecc_100x100arBeginning in February 2016, the first show in the Shakespeare season will be The Herbal Bed,Peter Whelan’s imagining of the life of William Shakespeare’s daughter. A powerful exposé of the contradiction between human desire and social convention, this moving and uplifting play provides a beautiful evocation of life in Shakespearian England. Directed by James Dacre in its first major revival since its acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company premiere in 1994, the production is a collaboration with English Touring Theatre and Rose Theatre Kingston. The Herbal Bed reunites the design team behind 2013’s UK Theatre Award-winning production of Peter Whelan’s The Accrington Pals. #HerbalBed

91bfcbd549e7ff11_100x100arIn April, two-time Olivier nominee Michael Pennington will take on Shakespeare’s greatest role as he stars in King Lear, directed by Philip Franks. With a cast of fourteen distinguished actors, this major new production will run for three weeks in the Royal, including on 23 April – the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – before touring the UK, in association with Ambassador Theatre Group. #LearTour16

a1d4ff36e93b826d_100x100arIn May, Tim Crouch will direct Spymonkey as they perform all 75 of Shakespeare’s onstage deaths, from the suicides in Julius Caesar to the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket inAntony and Cleopatra. Solemn yet sublimely funny, The Complete Deaths is presented by Spymonkey in co-production with Royal & Derngate and Brighton Festival, and receives exclusive previews in Northampton before its world premiere in Brighton Festival 2016 and international tour.#TheCompleteDeaths

The celebration of Shakespeare will conclude in June with The Tempest in a new music-theatre version by Oscar-winning writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Ida), directed by Caroline Steinbeis, who has directed for the Royal Court, National Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange. Shakespeare’s magical story of growing up and growing old is performed by the next generation of talent – an ensemble of 18-25 year olds that brings together the most promising young actors from the UK and Northamptonshire, in a co-production with the National Youth Theatre. #Tempest16

95f197baecd04335_100x100arAlso at the Royal, the internationally acclaimed company Peepolykus will tackle Madame Bovary in May, in a unique comic production. Described as ‘a loving derailment’ of Flaubert’s novel, The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary! will be directed by Everyman & Playhouse Artistic DirectorGemma Bodinetz. The world premiere will be a co-production between Royal & Derngate Northampton, Peepolykus, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Nuffield and the Bristol Old Vic.#MassiveTragedy

961a001faf67b052_100x100arIn a world premiere, Soul, Roy Williams’ new play about the life and tragically early death of soul legend Marvin Gaye will open at the end of May. A searing dramatic thriller that will reveal what really happened during Marvin Gaye’s haunting final days, Soul is a parable about an American family prepared to do anything to promote and protect their children. Not just the story of Marvin Gaye, but of many a great talent crushed by stardom, this new play is written by BAFTA and Evening Standard Award-winning Roy Williams, in close collaboration with members of the family of Marvin Gaye.#UntoldSoul

a883fc05a1fc5da8_100x100arFollowing its success in 2014, James Dacre’s celebrated production of Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities, adapted by Mike Poulton, will be revived in September, ahead of a national tour. In an age of increasing popular unrest across the world, this bold dramatic adaptation, set to rousing original music by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman, is frighteningly relevant. Featuring one of the largest acting companies to ever appear on the Royal’s stage, A Tale of Two Cities will be a co-production by Royal & Derngate and Touring Consortium Theatre Company. #TOTCTour16

Next Christmas, Peter and the Starcatcher will receive its European premiere on the Royal stage. Based on the much-loved novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, this swashbuckling musical prequel to the stories of Peter Pan will see a dozen actors play over 100 characters in rising directorial star Luke Shepherd’s wildly imaginative new production. A huge hit on Broadway in 2012 winning five Tony Awards and the Drama Desk Award for its glorious music, Peter and the Starcatcher went on to become one of the most produced plays in America last year. Following its run in Northampton, Royal & Derngate’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher will embark upon a national tour, presented by Paul Taylor-Mills.

Royal & Derngate are also developing several other projects that will be announced at a further date. These include a large-scale sound installation with Seven Sisters Group and Fermynwoods Contemporary Art and new work by Melanie Spencer, Maria Aberg, Joel Horwood and Mike Poulton. This programme means the theatre will have commissioned 24 new works in under 24 months.

Royal & Derngate has a thriving relationship with its local community, and in addition to the productions described above, the theatre’s Actors Company, Youth Theatre and Young Companywill stage three productions at the venue: Market Boy by David Eldridge, The Musicians byPatrick Marber and Lionel Bart’s Oliver!.

The theatre will also host a “Musical Theatre Darkroom” with partners China Plate and Musical Theatre Matters, further details of which will be announced on Thursday 10 December.

Chief Executive of Royal & Derngate, Martin Sutherland, commented: “This announcement of our ambitious new season coincides with an exciting time at Royal & Derngate. 2015’s major upgrade of the Derngate has ensured that the auditorium maintains its much valued flexibility, while our new craft beer bar will further enhance our customers’ experience. We are working hard to build on our successes and look forward to welcoming audiences to Northampton throughout 2016.”

For more information about any of the Made in Northampton productions, Shows can be booked online or by calling Box Office on 01604 624811.




Venue: Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1DP

The Herbal Bed

Dates:                          Friday 5 to Saturday 27 February 2016

Times:                         Evenings 7.45pm (except Tue 9 February at 7pm)

2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays (except Sat 6 February)

Press Night:                Tuesday 9 February 7pm

Tickets:                       £10 to £29*

The Herbal Bed then tours to Cambridge Arts Theatre, Liverpool Playhouse, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Brighton Theatre Royal, The Lowry, Salford, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, Theatre Royal Bath and Oxford Playhouse, ahead of performances at the Rose Theatre Kingston from 26 April – 7 May 2016.

King Lear

Dates:                          Friday 1 to Saturday 23 April 2016

Times:                         Evenings 7.45pm (except Tue 5 April at 7pm)

2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays (except Sat 2 April)

Press Night:                Tuesday 5 April at 7pm

Tickets:                       £10 to £29*

King Lear then tours nationally until Saturday 2 July.

Spymonkey’s The Complete Deaths

Dates:                          Thursday 5 to Saturday 7 May 2016

Times:                         Evenings 7.45pm

Matinee 2.30pm on Saturday

Tickets:                       £16*

Spymonkey’s The Complete Deaths previews at Royal & Derngate before its world premiere at Brighton Festival, 11 – 15 May, and an international tour.

The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary!

Dates:                          Tuesday 10 to Saturday 14 May 2016

Times:                         Evenings 7.45pm

2.30pm on Thursday and Saturday

Tickets:                       £10 to £29*

The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary! opens at Liverpool Everyman 5 – 27 February, and plays at Nuffield, Southampton 1 – 19 March and Bristol Old Vic 26 April – 7 May.


Dates:                          Friday 20 May to Saturday 11 June 2016

Times:                         Evenings 7.45pm (except Tue 24 May at 7pm)

2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays (except Sat 21 May)

Press Night:                Tuesday 24 May at 7pm

Tickets:                       £10 to £29*

The Tempest

Dates:                          Thursday 23 June to Saturday 2 July 2016

Times:                         Evenings 7.45pm (except Tue 28 June at 7pm)

2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays (excluding Thurs 23 June)

Press Night:                Tuesday 28 June at 7pm

Tickets:                       £16*

A Tale of Two Cities

Dates:                          Saturday 10 to Saturday 17 September 2016

Times:                         Evenings 7.45pm (except Tue 8 September at 7pm)

2.30pm on Thursdays and Saturdays (except Sat 5 September)

Tickets:                       £10 to £29*

A Tale of Two Cities then tours nationally until Saturday 26 November.

Box office:               

01604 624811 or online at

* A charge of £2.50 applies for all transactions over £15. Does not apply to Groups, Friends or Disabled Patrons, and is per-transaction, not per-ticket.